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New housing opportunity nears completion
new vlc housing story pic
Mike Johnson and Joe Curtiss with Exterior Designs in Ellinwood, install exterior siding on one of the 11 duplexes that will provide 22 new income-based apartments in Great Bend, to be rented out this fall. Applications will begin next Wednesday, says Vicky Dayton with Housing Opportunities Inc. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

This past spring, work began on the development of 11 two-bedroom duplexes by Housing Opportunities Inc., located east of Washington St. and 31st Ave. in Great Bend.   Now, with construction only two months away from completion, Housing Opportunities Director Vicky Dayton says the non-profit will start taking applications for tenants Wednesday, July 24.  Applicants must be disabled or age 55 and over.
The first 22 applicants will be considered on the basis, in part, of income qualification.  An additional 10 applicants will be considered alternates if others exceed the income requirement, Dayton said.
While the newly built homes won’t eliminate the city’s need for  additional affordable housing, it’s a start.  Cities all over the state are responding to this need in several ways.
Last week, city council members in Hays voted in favor of a Rural Housing Incentive District policy, which would allow developers to capture the increment in property taxes to help finance capital investment in a property.  Instead of paying the tax to the treasury, the developer can use the money to help pay the cost of water and sewer improvements.
But investment in tax credits has been the key to financing the 57 properties built by HOI in the past six years, Dayton said.   Investors “buy-into” the projects by purchasing tax credits from the HOI, which are awarded by the state.  Competition for the tax credits is stiff, but after 15 years, Dayton said HOI is in a very good position to win these opportunities.  Entities applying for the credits must prove they can comply with regulations, and HOI has an “A” report card with the Internal Revenue Service, she said.  They can also demonstrate the ability to keep the units filled.  And it’s no wonder, as many details go into the properties that ultimately make them both attractive and energy efficient.
The properties that are scheduled for completion at the end of August have no steps to navigate, modern kitchens with all appliances, accomodating room sizes with plenty of closet storage space,  accessible bathrooms with sit-down showers and washers and dryers, as well as water-conditioners that eliminate the need to struggle with water softener maintenance.   Utilities are all electric, which helps make these units super efficient.  The average utilities for similar units in Great Bend in 2012 ran about $114 monthly, and that included electrical, water and sewer, Dayton said.
“Often, tenants find this alone saves them nearly $100 a month, some more, some less,” she said.
In addition, rent includes all maintenance inside and out, plus all lawn care and snow removal.

Update:  An addition was made to this story on July 19.  Applicants must be disabled or 55 and over.